Democrats prepare for war with Kevin McCarthy over House committee seats

The looming battle over seating some Democratic representatives is a crucial stress test of the speaker's nascent leadership

Kevin McCarthy
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It's been just weeks since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) embarked on his historically torturous path to becoming speaker of the House of Representatives, tasked with maintaining some semblance of order and authority for his Republican caucus. Having cleared that initial hurdle, however, does not mean McCarthy's path forward will be an easy one — as speaker, he has made himself beholden to members of his own party eager to pull him further rightward, lest they find someone more amenable to their MAGA agenda. At the same time, the GOP's barely-there House majority itself is in a perpetual state of precariousness, with almost no margin for dissent in the face of a Democratic caucus that has thus far displayed a spartan level of discipline amongst itself.

With all eyes on the looming battle over the impending debt ceiling breach, there is, in fact, another battlefront for which McCarthy is being forced to prepare: his previous vows to remove key Democrats from their congressional committees, even as he restores once deposed members of his own party to their various assignments. It's a line in the sand that may have played well in his bid to become speaker, but now that he has the gavel in his grasp, Democrats have already moved to call his bluff — and he has answered in kind — in what seems poised to become a crucial stress test of his leadership. Here's everything you need to know:

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